Nate Thomson leads the Athens Photographic Project (APP), a non-profit program based in Athens, Ohio that responds to the needs of community members living with mental illness by providing a supportive opportunity for self-discovery, creative expression and community contribution through the arts.
Nate volunteered with the APP in 2002 and rejoined the APP as Director in 2007. Since joining the APP, Nate has helped expand program capacity from 10 to 40 adults per week; created a teen program; and began the Elise Sanford Gallery – A member-run gallery located within the community mall in Athens. He is currently focused on developing an APP technical assistance program to help other communities create Arts in Mental Health programs of their own. Nate studied Fine Art Photography at Otterbein College and earned a B.S. in Photojournalism from the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. In addition to his work with the Project, Nate serves on the Board of Directors for VSA Arts of Ohio.
Nate teaches photography as a contemplative art by emphasizing the parallels between creativity and wellness. He believes that both processes – the creative process and the process of maintaining a rich, and healthy life – are on-going, require care, and not only challenge individuals, but also reward them with meaningful insights that are valuable to themselves and to their communities.